Trip to: Omo Forest
Date: 2.2. – 3.2.08
Trip report: Jonathan Barrow, Canada
The trip to Omo started at 8:00 am at the Lekki conservation center. The group consisted of 10 NFS members, 1 Nigerian Conservation Society (NCS) member (Rachel), 1 cook, and 2 drivers. Because arranging for enough vehicles had turned out to be difficult, a bus (from Mobil) and a Prado were taken instead of a convoy of vehicles.
The bus trip to the 4wd road took about 2.5 hours. As we approached the forest we passed two gates were we were signed in at one of them. We also picked up a guide along the way (he knew we were coming). The 4wd road starts at a town named J4. It was here that we parked the bus and this is where the bus driver and guard stayed the night (in a house run by the NCS).
The Prado was quickly loaded with gear, the guide and one NFS member, and it left to the camp. 5 others started biking while 2 started running and 3 started walking. The distance to the camp is 12 km on the road. The road is fairly hilly and took about 2 hrs by bike (including ample stops). To get into the camping area one needs to travel about 700 m down a side road (passing through a gate, key required). Approaching the camp one sees signs announcing that we are entering a biosphere reserve (very encouraging). The camp itself consists of several small cabins (with mosquito nets, tidy appearance), a covered common area, an outdoor table with roof, an outhouse and an enclosed outdoor shower (bring lots of water). Over the next several hours the rest of the group arrived at the camp and the Prado did one more gear hauling trip. The cook/guide/driver/Rachel and one NFS member prepared their accommodation in the cabins/common area, the rest of us set up our tents.
After a snack we went for a walk with Rachel leading the group. We went to a spring where we saw evidence of recent elephant activity; in addition we were shown a number of interesting trees. Rachel also showed us how she is doing a transect of the area. This consists of walking 5 km stretches on a grid. 5 km is measured with a thin thread that she lets out of a spool as she walks. Every 200 m she stops and records what she sees within a 25m2 area.
After the walk we had a tasty dinner of BBQ’d chicken and then we settled back to listen (and see on a laptop) Rachel’s presentation on the work being done in Omo by the NCS (very interesting!). Everyone went to bed almost immediately after the talk.
The next day we woke to a nicely prepared omelet breakfast (with tea/coffee/beans and toast). Then we were off for a walk to the river. It took about 1 hour to get to the river, walking through heavy forest all the way. The river was pretty but we did not stay long as we had to get back to start moving back to Lagos. On the way back we split into 2 groups. Part way back, the 2 groups re-joined, and we realized we had lost my sister-in-law (visiting for one week). A search party was sent out and she was recovered after ~15 minutes, a bit shaken, but still smiling. When we got back to camp we packed up the 4WD (it had already made one trip with luggage).
Four people biked and 5 started walking. The riders made it out on time, but the Prado had to go and collect the walkers so we could get to Lgos before dark. The ride back in the bus was uneventful. We made it back around 4:00PM, in time to catch the Nigeria/Ghana football games.
All in all, a very good trip.